Official Campaigning for Presidential Election Kicks off
As the official presidential campaign kicked off on Monday, major candidates wasted no time hitting the trail to woo voters.
A total of 15 candidates will stake their claim for the presidency during the 22-day period, which will run until May 8th before the election is held the next day.
Democratic Party's Moon Jae-in headed to Daegu on Monday morning, becoming the first nominee in the history of the left-leaning party to launch an official presidential campaign in the conservative city.
On Tuesday, he traveled to Jeju, Jeonju, and Gwangju, announcing a series of pledges on the way, including those aimed at senior citizens.
People's Party presidential hopeful Ahn Cheol-soo began his official campaign by visiting the Vessel Traffic Services Center at Incheon Port, a move he claims demonstrates his resolve to safeguard public safety. Ahn visited South Chungcheong Province on Tuesday, seeking to absorb supporters of the province’s Governor Ahn Hee-jung, a former in-house rival of Moon, before heading to Daegu.
Hong Joon-pyo of the former ruling Liberty Korea Party (LKP) had a brief stopover in Seoul and the Chungcheong provinces on the first day of his presidential campaign. The former South Gyeongsang Province Governor’s campaign trail then took him to Daegu, Busan, and other Gyeongsang areas, where he appealed to voters in the traditional conservative strongholds.
Yoo Seong-min of the splinter conservative Bareun Party and Sim Sang-jeung of the progressive Justice Party both started their campaigns in the Seoul Metropolitan Area.
On Wednesday, the candidates put aside their differences to visit the April 19th National Cemetery in Seoul and pay tribute to those killed during a nationwide pro-democracy movement on April 19th, 1960. However, the contenders soon continued their political gamesmanship, questioning each other’s credentials during the second television debate held later in the day.
At the late-night debate organized by KBS, the five candidates collided over the deployment of the missile defense system THAAD and other divisive issues, including whether to recognize North Korea as a "primary enemy." They also staged heated debates over economic and social policies, exposing their sharp differences on tax, jobs, and welfare.
Meanwhile, a Gallup Korea poll on Friday showed that Moon is leading the other candidates with an approval rating of 41 percent, ahead of Ahn’s 30 percent. Hong received support from nine percent of respondents, followed by Sim at four percent, and Yoo at three percent.
A total of one-thousand-four people were surveyed between Tuesday and Thursday for the poll, which had a 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of plus or minus three-point-one percentage points.